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J Trauma. 1999 Sep;47(3):568-71.

Alcohol and drug use in victims of life-threatening trauma.

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Department of Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.



Alcohol and drug use has been implicated as a contributing factor to all types of trauma. This investigation seeks to determine the prevalence of alcohol and drug use in patients who are victims of life-threatening injuries and the association of alcohol and drug use with intentional trauma.


The Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans (Charity Campus) trauma registry was used to identify patients sustaining life-threatening injuries that presented to our American College of Surgeons Level 1 trauma center over a 6-month period. Serum ethanol levels and urine toxicology were assessed at initial presentation for all patients.


A total of 557 patients were evaluated. Seventy percent (n = 319) of tested patients (n = 450) had positive serum ethanol and/or urine toxicology results. Male gender (75% vs. 55%; p < 0.001) was associated with positive screens; ethnicity was not. No difference in hospital days or mortality was seen between positive and negative screens. Victims of intentional trauma showed a higher percent of positive screens (80% vs. 63%; p < 0.005).


These data suggest that alcohol and drug use is associated with life-threatening injury, especially intentional injury. Prevention of substance abuse is essential for the prevention of trauma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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